Think your job is tough, Dan Rather? Just try filling Terry Kegley’s Hush Puppies. Kegley, 23, is the anchorman on KXGN-TV news in Glendive, Mont, (pop. 6,500). He’s also the reporter, cameraman, editor, producer—and probably the guy most likely to answer the phone. That’s the way things are at the smallest TV station in America.
Of course, news gathering is different when you’re serving a two-county audience of less than 6,000 households. Kegley’s day begins at 8 a.m. when he drops by to check the overnight police blotter for stories. (Last night somebody left a shop door unlocked.) Before the day is done, there will be hearings in nearby Wibaux on the closing of the train depot, a school board meeting in Glendive and a fire to deal with. “On a slow night you lead with farm news,” he says, “or in winter, maybe a featurette on the health risks of shoveling snow.”
Kegley has no wire service machine, no TelePrompTer, runs his own videocam in the field and edits his own tape back at the studio. That’s not to say he works alone. Although most of the programming on this tiny CBS affiliate consists of fed-in network shows, the station does have four other on-air personalities. Sports reporter (and station manager) “Dapper Dan” Frenzel, 42, updates viewers on high school scores and once even delivered a hard-hitting editorial (he chewed out viewers for not supporting the teens’ Babe Ruth baseball league). Dorothy Sturglaugson, 38, is back from maternity leave and says she was thrilled to resume her Sunday chat show, Let’s Talk About It. And then there are movie reviewers Mike Ireland, 45, and Karen Straus, 38. They’re the Siskel and Ebert of KXGN, and they meet on-cam-era once a week to review what’s playing down at the Rose, Glendive’s only cinema.
Still, it is Kegley with his eight-minute evening newscast who is the station’s most visible presence. “You call Terry, and within 10 minutes there he is, carrying his equipment on his back like some modern mountain man,” marvels Don Kettner, president of nearby Dawson Community College. Unfortunately for Kegley, a former FM-radio deejay, he only carries home $12,000 a year for all his labors and admits that “you can stock shelves in a grocery store for more than I make.” Happily there are other rewards. Even in Glendive, “people feel it’s exciting, it’s glamorous,” says movie critic Straus of the station. “It’s television.”